Monday, November 14, 2016

Homecoming

Hello, everyone! I hope and pray that you've all been having a wonderful week, and that you've been able to see the Lord and many of His tender mercies in your life. I know I certainly have. :) This week, however, has been quite different from my previous weeks, breaking the routine quite a bit. Long story slightly-less-long, here's the gist of things:

Getting Sick
About 2 months ago, I started getting really sick. I believe I mentioned it a bit in passing, but I didn't mention that I was vomiting multiple times a day, and that it didn't stop over the week or two that the doctors assumed it would. I got a lot of medical tests done, but there was a lot of waiting, a lot of uncertainty, and a lot not being able to do much missionary work. There wasn't a lot of anything really staying in my stomach. :)

Getting Help
Over the course of about 7 weeks, I tried to meet with a doctor or a specialist or get this or that test done, et al. Over that course of 7 weeks, they tested for multiple things, all of which came back negative (thankfully), but only really shed light on what it was not rather than what it was. The first time I got my blood results back, actually, they just said over the phone, "everything looks normal, so you're all good." Which would've been nice, but my symptoms kept persisting.

Getting Worse
As time went on, my health started to come and go in waves, ever decreasing to being virtually incapacitated. I started off being able to do some lessons but no finding, to a couple of lessons, to maybe one or two lessons, to having a really difficult time even waking up at the right time in the morning because my sleep was very interrupted. My mental/emotional health started to suffer a bit as I had something I deemed to be akin to "learned helplessness" as I couldn't really do much of anything, especially not social things. Missionary work is a pretty interpersonal endeavor, so, while I tried my best, I could still just do less and less. All this time, my companions were wonderful and patient with me, helping me along the way even though I wasn't able to do much.

Getting A Call
On Thursday morning last week (Wednesday for all across the international dateline), I got a call from my mission president saying that he felt (which means Heavenly Father impressed him) that I should return to the United States to get some perhaps expedited care as well as quality time with my family. I had been really open with him and my family about how I was feeling and how it was wearing on me, though I tried to emphasize the positive. I kind of saw his proposition coming, because I had felt quite bad for so long, but the details of his decision shocked me; he was going to arrange for me to go on a plane on Saturday- just two days later. I got to meet with all my previous companions in the Vietnamese program to say goodbye, and it was really nice of president to approve of that although we made it to the mission home a little late.

Inline image 1

Getting Home
I woke up around 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning in Melbourne, Australia, spent about 35 hours on a plane or in airports, and arrived home Saturday Afternoon at 1:20 p.m. How's that for time travel? I was greeted by my wonderful family, and I was released as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. So, I'm not really Elder Erekson anymore, but we're exploring my options for the future of that. We have to start off by finding out what the medical problem is first, though, so it may be a while before much information is available in that regard. :) I'm feeling a lot better emotionally because I don't have the worry about needing to do missionary work while I physically can't (which I did try to ignore a couple of times... not the best idea, but blessings still came. :) ), and I get to spend time with my family. I've been sleeping a bit better than I have in weeks, so I feel like this is truly where the Lord wants me to be right now. I don't understand all of His plan, nevertheless, I know that He loves His children, and that all things He gives us will be for our good. :)

Inline image 2

Getting Mail
So, yeah! I'm not sure how much longer I'll have this email while I'm at home, so if you want to be sure that you can reach me, I can be reached at Lukas.Erekson@gmail.com. I'm also home in Orem, now, so if you're around, it'd be great to arrange a time to meet when things get a little less crazy with my stomach. If you had my number, I should be getting it back soon, so hey, there's that!

No matter what happens ahead, I'm so grateful to my Heavenly Father for the wonderful mission He allowed me to serve. I've grown so much under His tutelage, and I hope and pray that that can continue even as I continue to apply and become all that He has taught. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I bear testimony that He lives and he guides His church today through His living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and that the Book of Mormon is His word, and is often the means by which He communicates with His children. He loves us all. He loves me. He loves you. I love you! Have a wonderful week, and we'll talk soon!

Inline image 3

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Medical Tests & Pictures

Hello, all! This week has been pretty fun, but we've had a lot of meetings and a few medical tests. I got to eat radioactive eggs, have my stomach scanned for about an hour and half (a gastric emptying test), and meet with some of the other Vietnamese Elders! I don't have a lot to say this week, but here are pictures! :) 

Inline image 1

Inline image 2

Inline image 3

Jesus is the Christ. Thomas S. Monson is His prophet. This is His true church, restored by Joseph Smith, the prophet of the Restoration. I know that this is true. Have a wonderful week! :) 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Of Such Is The Kingdom

Hello, everyone! I Hope that you've been able to have a blessed week and can continue to see the hand of the Lord in your lives! May His grace always attend you. :) 

The Lord has blessed us this week to enjoy the company of His innocent children. The words of the Savior come to mind when He said, "suffer the children to come to me, for of such is the kingdom of God." This week, we were able to work with a lot of children. On Tuesday, we saw the baptism of a 9 year old boy with Autism, and the sweet love and spirit that surrounded everyone who got to witness the service. As he was baptized and confirmed, the power of godliness was certainly manifest. The next day, we were able to visit a less active family at the request of Bishop, only to find out that one of their children hasn't been baptized yet. As we taught about the Restoration and testified of Jesus Christ as our Brother, Savior, and Friend, it was a miracle to see his eyes light up in surprise. "He's really MY brother?" He seemed to say. At the end of the lesson, we committed the family to read from the Book of Mormon, and we gave the little boy a brand new copy of the Book of Mormon as a gift. From what we gathered, he's not too much of a reader, but he took and held that sacred book of scripture like it was precious. It was wonderful to see how precious it was to him, what it meant to him, although only 9 years old. Truly, children are able to feel the spirit strongly.

Inline image 1

In addition to those teaching appointments, we were able to have another lesson with Elmey, the 9 year old investigator scheduled to be baptized in 2 weeks. We had a fun lesson on taking care of our bodies as temples of the Lord, teaching the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. As though the Lord would only have us teach children this week, we were asked to give the sharing time for primary on Sunday! We taught a fun lesson on prayer, and taught how we can talk directly to Heavenly Father and He will listen to us. The kids responded to our questions with great faith, and I could tell they were happy to be able to talk with our Heavenly Father directly, to know that He answers our prayers and loves us very much. I know that children are capable of feeling the spirit so strongly, and they can express in their simple way profound truth. I've found that what the Savior did among the Nephites still happens to us today; He looses the tounges of children that they can utter even greater things than we have imagined. Their faith is so simple, so trusting, and so inspiring. That we may all have the faith of little children and inherit the kingdom of heaven is my prayer, and my hope, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Inline image 2

I pray that you can have an excellent week and can continue to become more and more Christlike until the perfect day! :) My health is still not the best, but the Lord is certainly helping me a lot. :) I love you!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Enduring Well

Hello, everyone! I hope and pray that you are all having wonderful spiritual experiences, writing them down, and remembering the Lord's hand is in all things. :)

Inline image 1


For the past 7 or so weeks, I've been feeling pretty sick. I've felt sustained by the Lord, for sure, but I have also felt quite weighed down at times with the physical/emotional burden. Being sick has given me a lot of opportunity to reflect and to listen to General Conference talks. I've listened to a few particular talks from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, and as a recurring theme in my studies and in listening to conference, I've learned a lot about the principle of endurance. In Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a promise that all his trials and afflictions will be for but a small moment alongside the promise that if he "endure(s) it well, God shall exalt [him] on high." I've thought a lot about what it means just to endure, endure to the end, and to endure well. Time and time again, the scriptures promise us that the ultimate reward for endurance is eternal life with God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son. I've learned a lot about the different kinds of endurance this week, however. Often, we think of enduring as taking on life's challenges as they come, each new event bringing with it a new solution and a new triumph. But, as Elder Maxwell reminds us, enduring is not just a "promise to go to a Nineva, but also a pledge to stay at our present post." The people of Alma the elder understood their submission their reliance on God, and that helped them to be able to endure all manner of afflictions, to hush their fears, and to feel their loads lightened as they depended on the Savior, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Part of the enduring I've been learning about is more of the latter described by Elder Maxwell. Although I do not understand all the reasons why I've been sick for so long, or what exactly the Lord's purposes are for me, I have pledged to come here, and I have pledged to stay at my present post, doing all that is within my power to help Him in His work. Sometimes, that means being still to conserve energy for other appointments. Sometimes that means stepping beyond my comfort zone and stretching myself to do at least a little bit of His work. Either way, I've seen His hand in it, and I know that I am in His watchful care. I know that the Savior endured all things, and that if I, and we all, rely on Him, then we, too, can endure all things. I know He lives. I know He loves us. I know He is with us.


Inline image 2

I hope and pray that you can feel His love. :) Have a wonderful week! :) 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tim-Tam Slam

Hello, everyone! I love you! I hope and pray that you are doing well and feeling the Lord's watchful care! :)

This week, Elder Doan and I were able to do a lot of good things together. I was able to show him a few fun Australian things, like his first tim-tam slam, and he has been able to improve his missionary cooking skills (of which he's really proud!) as he adjusts to missionary life. He's been learning more about missionary life, what it takes, and how to bear a great testimony. He got to speak in church for the first time, and he did an excellent job! We also got to meet our mission president for interviews, which went fantastic! It's been a fun week, but not one without its challenges. 

Inline image 1

Earlier this week, someone that we were helping to prepare to be baptized decided that she wasn't ready to commit to learning more about the church, living the commandments, and getting baptized. She's not even sure she wants to pursue the church further. This was really unfortunate timing, it seemed, because we only had one more lesson with her before her interview and everything seemed to be going wonderfully. However, as Elder Oaks reminded us in the last General Conference, people learn on their own time and in their own way. As we discussed with her about her growing testimony in the Savior and the great things that she learned from the church, she shared time and time again about all the wonderful and useful things the gospel has given her. Unfortunately, even after all of that, she decided to use her agency in a way that turned her away from entering the waters of baptism and covenanting with our Heavenly Father. Nevertheless, as we left that lesson, I did not feel burdened in my heart. The Lord helped me to feel comfort and assurance. Not only did we do all that we could to give her a clear choice, but I'm confident that she will come back to the church. The biggest thing, she said, that she got out of the church was repentance, and how we can be made perfect through Jesus Christ as we try. As a missionary, I can think of no greater take-away for investigators than to know that they have a Savior who loves them and has given them the wonderful gift of repentance so that one day, we can answer the question, "can I be good enough? Can I live with Father again?" with an ultimate and resounding yes. I testify of Jesus Christ's redeeming love. I know that He has given us repentance, the chance to grow and improve, so that we can become more like Him and ultimately receive eternal joy. No matter the trial, challenge, or even joy that we feel in this life, I know that there is just greater happiness to come through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Inline image 2
BIG thanks to Holly for taking us out for Pho! :) 

I pray that you all have a wonderful week! I love you! : )

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Meet Elder Doan! :)

Hello again! Another week, many much more adventures! We got to watch Conference this week (it was amazing!!) and I got to meet my new companion, Elder Doan! :)

Elder Doan is from Vietnam and is an excellent Elder! His English is great because he lived in America for a few years, and even attended BYU. His missionary attitude and skill is also great becuase he served a "mini-mission" in Vietnam for a whole transfer! He's already helping me a lot with my Vietnamese, and I've been able to see first hand how goldens truly bring miracles. We've had an incredible week. Although it was full of meetings, Conference, and getting our bearings, Elder Doan's willingness to go out, work, and talk with people about the restored gospel helped us meet 5 new investigators! One of his first experiences GQ-ing led us to a home of 4 people who are willing to learn more about the Savior and the Restored Gospel. He's hard working, diligent, and willing to learn and improve!

Inline image 1

What struck me in particular about this General Conference was the sheer amount of talks focused around the Doctrine of Christ, or one specific aspect of it (particularly repentance). It seemed that one talk after another just emphasized the 5 steps that our Savior has given us to become more like Him, cleansed from sin, and all that our Heavenly wants us to become. I'm grateful for the wonderful ways that the apostles and leaders of the church reminded us to pray and repent with real intent. I'm so grateful for the reminders that I have in my life to apply the Doctrine of Christ in my daily life and in my missionary work. I know that by following the Doctrine of Christ- Faith, Repentance, Baptism/ Covenants, the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End- is truly the pattern of living that will bring us the most happiness not just in this life, but also in the life to come. Heavenly Father has inspired His messengers to teach us about these things that we may have Eternal life and live with Him again. I pray that we can all review and re-commit to the wonderful things we have learned and felt this General Conference, organized and orchestrated by our loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

Inline image 2

I hope you all have a wonderful week and can see the hand of Christ in your lives! I love you!! :)

Ps. I tried to give myself a haircut on Monday... it's not too bad, right? :) 

Concerning my health:
This week was one of the most rewarding weeks of my mission in terms of building confidence and testimony! That being said, this week was also probably one of the most stressful on my mission. I put a lot of pressure on myself to help Elder Doan love missionary life and work. Fortunately, the Lord has blessed us both to be able to have a good week and to enjoy all aspects of missionary life as well! The stress is a little daunting at times, but I've been able to rely on the Lord and apply the messages in the scriptures and in General Conference a lot this past week, and it's been one of the most rewarding weeks on my mission as well. My sickness, unfortunately, isn't much better, but thanks to priesthood blessings, fervent prayers, and the Lord's mercy, I haven't been incapacitated this week, so I've been able to show Elder Doan golden mornings, being on time for appointments (including finding appointments) and giving my all to work. My cold has gotten a bit worse, and my stomach isn't much better, but we're going to see the specialist on Wednesday, so I pray that all will be well then.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Transfers, Training, and Testimony

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all well. :) I Love you! How was General Conference? I know that these leaders are truly called of God. This week was a full week, and it ended with transfer news; I'll be training a new missionary from Vietnam for at least the next 6 weeks! I don't know his name yet, but it's a very exciting opportunity! I'll be sad to see Elder Marshall go, but I know that the Lord directs His work.

Inline image 1

This week was also full of many miracles for our companionship. We were able to meet up with an investigator and set a firm baptismal date with her for the 22nd of October! She is very excited and eager to reach this date. She wants to be a member of the Lord's true church, and her main concern is just that she doesn't quite know everything- something I'm sure we all can say! Fortunately, the church is a system established by the Lord to help us to learn and grow. One of the major purposes of the church (and this life) is to help us learn and gain experiences. The Lord doesn't do this by thrusting everything upon us all at once, but He often works "line upon line, precept upon precept." I'm confident that the spiritual experiences that she's been having are helping her to realize the truth as it is although she may not yet understand all the stories nor remember all the names of the prophets.

This experience has also taught me a lot about how I need to trust in the Lord when I don't know everything. I'm not sure why I'm feeling unwell, especially in this time of big transition during transfers when I'll begin training a new missionary, but I know that the Lord loves me and will guide me. We had a family home evening at a members home the other night with a recent convert, an investigator, and an active member, wherein we were able to have our very own "fast and testimony" meeting. As I bore my testimony of trusting in the Lord no matter how much information we may (or may not) have, He will be able to lead us and direct us for good. I'm grateful for the time to reflect on the ways that He has already directed me to where I am now, and how I trust that He is doing so now even though the pathway is yet unclear. I'm grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who will take us where we are and make us so much more as we trust in Him. I'm grateful for the wonderful members, investigators, and missionaries that are helping me to grow and progress at this time. I know that the Lord's will is for each of us to learn and grow, and the best way we can do that is if we first learn and master the ability to trust Him in all our doings, not depending so much on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that He loves each one of us, and that His hand is always outstretched, leading us along the path that will ultimately return to Him. I testify that as we listen to His chosen leaders, the prophets, seers, and revelators sustained at General Conference, we are truly following the voice of the Good Shepherd, who will only direct us for good. I'm excited and nervous for the challenges ahead this transfer, but I know in whom I can trust, even Jesus Christ, in whose name I share my testimony, amen.

Inline image 2

Have a wonderful week! I love you all! :)